Rusty Staub belted a three-run home run in the top of the ninth, leading Detroit to an 8-5 win over Kansas City at Royals Stadium.
Relief pitcher Steve Mingori, who had finished the eighth inning with a double play, gave up a leadoff double to Tom Veryzer in the ninth. Two outs later, Veryzer was still at second and it appeared the Royals might enter the bottom half of the ninth with the score still tied. But Mingori walked Steve Kemp, then surrendered Staub’s first home run of the year, a fly ball deep into the right field seats.
That capped a back-and-forth game that saw Detroit overcome deficits of 2-0 and 4-3. The Royals picked up single runs in the third and fifth innings. In the third, George Brett singled with one out and reached second when Kemp misplayed the ball in left field. Hal McRae singled, with Brett stopping at third. John Mayberry grounded out, with Brett scoring. In the fifth, Freddie Patek led off with a triple and scored when Brett singled.
Detroit had only managed five hits in the first five innings against Royals starter Paul Splittorff, but nearly doubled that in the sixth. Singles by Tito Fuentes and Kemp started the inning. With two outs, Ben Oglivie singled to score one run. Milt May’s double drove in two more, and Detroit had a 3-2 lead.
Kansas City retook the lead in their half of the sixth. Darrell Porter singled off Tigers starter Dave Rozema, but was forced out at second on an Al Cowens grounder with one out. Cowens stole second, though, and stopped at third on a Pete LaCock single. Patek singled to right center, with Cowens scoring easily and LaCock racing home when Oglivie booted the ball. However, Patek was thrown out at home trying to score on the play, ending the inning with KC ahead, 4-3.
Perhaps Patek was tired from all that running, because he committed an error on a Veryzer grounder starting the seventh. Reliever Doug Bird got the next two hitters out, but Kemp tagged him for a home run, giving the Tigers the lead back at 5-4.
More bad defense happened in the home half of the seventh. Tigers reliever John Hiller got two quick outs, but McRae’s ground ball to third got away from Aurelio Rodriguez. McRae reached second on the play, then scored the tying run on Mayberry’s single. The score remained tied until the ninth.
With the loss, the Royals dropped to 4-3.
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